Felix Stalder on Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:18:03 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Armin Medosch (1962-2017)

Armin Medosch died yesterday, on the day two months after being
diagnosed with cancer. I'm sure many people on nettime knew him very
well. He was a long-time mover and shaker in the media arts and
network culture scene in Europe. Indeed for much longer than even
nettime exists.

I first learned of Armin not as a person, but a legend. In the early
1990s, he was one of a band of artists of an unqualifiable streak
who roamed the Baltic sea on the Kunst-Raum-Schiff, MS Stubnitz. An
80m former freeze & transport vessel of the GDR high seas fishing
fleet, they had re-purposed as a moving center for experimental
electronic culture. He curated and organised exhibitions and symposia
in Rostock, Hamburg, Malmö and St.Petersburg. The project was
incredibly evocative, even for someone like me who had never seen the
ship, because it fused many of the ideas that would come to define
network culture, namely nomadism, a total disregard for established
culture institutions, DIY and an exploration of the wild wastelands
opened by the breakdown of the Soviet system, after 1989.

A few years later, when he was the co-founder and editor (1996 to
2002) of the groundbreaking online magazine Telepolis, he gave me
the first change to publish regularly on network culture. Telepolis,
which came out of exhibition on what was then called “interactive
cities”, was the first European (or at least German) online
publication that followed and understood the newly emerging phenomenon
of the network culture. Together with Mute in London and nettime
as list, Telepolis was a key node in establishing something like a
European perspective on Internet culture, in clear opposition to WIRED
and the Californian ideology.

In the early 2000s, Armin and I found ourselves living in Vienna. A
collaborative working relationship turned into friendship. We still
collaborated on a lot of projects, such as a Kingdom of Piracy, an
exhibition project he initiated with Yukiko Shikata and Shu Lea
Cheang, one of the first art projects that focused on the legal and
illegal cultural practices of sharing digital materials. Over the last
few years, we worked together in the framework of technopolitics,
an independent research platform, he founded initially with Brian
Holmes, aiming at developing a more martially grounded cultural
critique, one which could relate cultural practices within deeper,
more structure social transformation. A task we considered urgent
after breakdown of the neo-liberal paradigm following the crisis that
started 2008. All of these projects, and many more that I cannot
account for personally – and need your help to fill in – where
transdisciplinary, collaborative and exploratory, often ahead of their
times. This is, however, something that the art and the academic
system rarely appreciates.

Technopolitics continued this cross-disciplinary and collaborate
work, but also reflected his new focus of work on developing a
deep and sustained cultural theory and art history. His most
recent publication, “New Tendencies: Art at the Threshold of the
Information Revolution (1961-1978)” (MIT Press, 2016) was a first
major achievement of this new direction. So was Technopolitics which
we were able to present to overflow crowds at the transmediale late
last month, an event which he could only witness via stream from his
hospital bed. Quite recently, we even became neighbours and we would
walk over to each other's house for discussions, food a drinks. No

Geert Lovink, "Interview with Armin Medosch", 1997


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